Three former Anglican clergy were ordained to the Catholic priesthood for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham by Bishop Kieran Conry of the Catholic Diocese of Arundel & Brighton in Arundel Cathedral, on Friday, 17 June.
The three men are Fr Neil Chatfield, Fr Geoff Cook and Fr Ron Robinson. Former clergy in the Anglican Church they responded to the Pope’s invitation to join the Catholic Church alongside their communities. Based in Eastbourne and Chichester they will not only ministry to their own communities, but are also prepared to assist communities of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton.
Ordained deacons on 4 May in Arundel Cathedral, they returned to celebrate their priestly ordinations at a beautiful and moving ceremony in the same Cathedral last Friday, 17 June. The celebration was honoured with, as Bishop Kieran described it, ‘the very gracious’ presence of Bishop John Hind, Bishop of the Anglican diocese of Chichester, where the three men had previously ministered.
The continuity of their faith journey was well expressed in a prayer which preceded the ordinations:
Almighty Father, we give you thanks for the years of faithful ministry of you servants in the Church of England, whose fruitfulness for salvation has been derived from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church. As your servants have been received into full communion and now seek to be ordained to the priesthood in the Catholic Church, we beseech you to bring to fruition that for which we now pray, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.
A considerable number of people came to support and pray with the new priests and participated with enthusiasm in the beautiful music, led by lay members of the Ordinariate.
Bishop Kieran said in his homily that he had received a good deal of correspondence about the ordinariate, some very positive and joyful, others not so and some expressing confusion. It was only indifference which worried him. In a recent survey most people in our country described themselves as spiritual, but not needing the Good News or religion. God is missing, but not missed. We all, throughout Christianity, have the common call to preach the Gospel to a world in which there is a huge void. We have to live as saved people. He asked the congregation to pray for the three men who will be sharing in being heralds of the Gospel to a world broken and searching, but not knowing what it is searching for.
This was three of more than 50 ordinations taking place around the country.